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Rice Solar Decathlon House

Rice Solar Decathlon

Rice University’s entry in the Solar Decathlon 2009 was an energy-efficient, high-performance solar-powered house. Their entry, dubbed ZEROW HOUSE, is now installed at Project Row Houses (PRH) in Houston’s Third Ward, where it will remain for at least one year.

The team used the ZEROW HOUSE to show the community that solar power can be affordable. It was also an engineering feat to design a structure that would generate enough energy to meet the house’s needs over a year.

They incorporated some of the latest technology into their design, such as a photovoltaic array. In addition, they designed a solar hot water system.

In a related effort, the Rice students also developed an affordable, minimalist home that could be built on site for just under $80,000. With some labor, the house is a viable option for a single or couple looking to live in a greener, more energy efficient house.

However, the Rice Solar Decathlon House was not the only one that showcased a more than adequate energy output. Among the twenty-plus houses competing in the competition, ZeRow HOUSE was the only one in the lower cost bracket.

For the 2009 competition, the team decided to use the zeRow to design an affordable, energy efficient house that would serve as an affordable prototype for the low-income population. Several members of the team met with the PRH leadership.

In the end, the ZEROW HOUSE made its mark by tying for second in the architecture category, as well as demonstrating the market viability of solar power. This was the first time a competition allowed teams to include cost estimates as part of their design.